Ghana Health Team 2017 Update - And the Whistle Blew

by Dr. Jennifer Wilson

The medical team set out at 0630 for the remote village of Nyamboi. The chiefs and elders were waiting to greet us and we quickly moved to the greeting ceremony where the chief’s closing remarks were, “I pray this consistent relationship will endure forever." My Amelia presented a gift to the chief; Elise, our star pharmacy student, presented a football to the village; and our birthday girl presented a gift for the chief’s wife. Renee celebrated her birthday with us and Nyamboi village invited about a thousand people to her party!

Our logistics team had their work cut out for them today as the crowd was very large and loud and pressing in constantly. They have a very tough job.

Our triage team of Sandra, Greg and Les did a great job screening the crowd, deciding who could be treated for minor ailments and sent home, and who needed to be seen by the doctors.Before our nursing station was even set up, the whistle blew. The whistle sounds when there is a major emergency. Every day we have one physician assigned to deal with emergencies and they respond together with Greg, our advanced care paramedic, and one of our nurses. Two unresponsive kids with severe malaria were carried in as Dr. Charlie got to work. Soon thereafter a man having severe angina and heart failure arrived. It was no coincidence that Dr. Charlie is a cardiac specialist. Set up or not, the team was ready. That is one thing I love about this group of people — they are always ready, always prepared for anything.

Dr. Charlie was on call for emergencies today

Dr. Charlie was on call for emergencies today

All team members worked extremely hard in extremely hot and loud conditions today and provided such compassionate and excellent care to a large number of patients. We thank God that all the critical patients turned around in time to go home.

The eye team tells us they had awesome day as all systems were running effectively and the volunteer eye team -- now called “Badama” (Barb, Dan, and Margaret) -- have really caught on to their new roles. Back the compound, Dr. Angela and Marion restored sight to 2 patients with glaucoma and dealt with some eye emergencies.

Our surgical team started their day with an unexpectedly challenging case that required all hands on deck. Dan was so impressed with the teamwork that is necessary when working in our low-resource conditions here. Twenty-three lives were changed in that OR today.

At dinner, each team leader designates someone to report to the group on how their day went. We share about the patients we meet, the challenges we face, and of course there is always a lot of laughter as we hear about things like ... wedding proposals (Sue has had 3!), dental drama (Francois), aches and pains that surgeons didn’t know they had (Dan), and happy dances over simple things like power (Sherry) or frozen Fandago at lunch (all of us).

I am so thankful to God that our team’s health has been wonderful. The only exception is that latrine phobia has kicked in. It is real and is it quite common to hear team members wishing each other luck as they pass one another on the latrine path. Dr. Carlye, our team doc, kindly ran a constipation clinic after dinner and it was appreciated by many. Our gazebo is now buzzing with excitement as Esther the local seamstress is selling her cloth for the outfit she will make for many of us.

Well, 0545 is coming very quickly and it is time to rest. As they say in Ghana, may God grant us tomorrow.

Much love to everyone back home — we appreciate your support and comments that feel like a little lifeline to home.

Nurse Kathleen visiting the sick

Nurse Kathleen visiting the sick